Tea & Truth

How to Win Hearts and Influence People for Christ

Oct 23, 2017

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We live in a world that’s hurting for Jesus. They just don’t know it. And some of them never will.

Recently a coworker shared with me about coming across the reality TV show Teen Moms while channel surfing one night. What he saw hurt his heart. These teenage moms lived in a perpetual state of brokenness, completely unaware that there’s a God who can heal them and fill them with unimaginable joy.

I was blessed to grow up in a Christian home where I was encouraged to participate in all sorts of biblically-based activities. In addition, my parents sent me to a Christian school K-12 before I furthered my education at a Bible college. I credit my parents with the fantastic biblical foundation that I now base my life on, and the Holy Spirit for getting ahold of me at a young age.

But so many other girls don’t get to experience that. This is one reason I volunteer at my church’s junior high group. I want to plant seeds when the students are old enough to understand Scripture, but before they make major life mistakes that they may come to regret. I want them to fall in love with the God who created them.

After nearly a decade of serving in youth ministry, I have to admit that junior highers are a tough crowd these days. I really have to earn the right to speak into the girls’ lives. And yet they still respond better to pre-existing influences that they enjoy (and don’t even recognize as influential), like any form of media or entertainment. So, I view those as tools I can use to reach them for Christ.

But even then, I have to be careful. If I show any sort of negative attitude toward something they like (even if it has terrible morals), I can see their eyes gloss over and the door to their hearts swing shut. I have to meet them where they’re at. I have to be all things to all men (or young ladies) so they will understand the Gospel and how to live by it. It isn’t easy, and I fall flat on my face a lot in the attempt.

I recently discovered a small win. Last year, I had shared with the girls my excitement over a friend being cast in the Christian movie I’m Not Ashamed. It’s about a teenager who gives her life for Christ during the Columbine shooting, so I encouraged the girls to go see it. A couple of them did and told me that they liked it. Earlier this school year, we passed out questionnaires asking what the girls’ favorite food, book, music, etc. was. Amongst the scads of terrible movies listed as their favorites, one girl wrote that her favorite movie was I’m Not Ashamed! Whether she knows it or not, that movie has influenced her and is helping her build a foundation on the Rock.

On that same questionnaire, over half the girls didn’t even respond to “favorite book.” Reading simply isn’t popular right now (breaking my word-nerd heart). It cuts into their phone time, and nothing gets between junior high girls and their phones. But oops – the Bible is a book. And for their reading comprehension level, a confusing one at that. And on top of that, to them, reading it carries a “holier-than-thou,” judgmental stigma. Getting them to read the Bible on their own is like getting them to walk over hot coals barefoot.

Even so, I bought each of the girls a 365-day devotional. One verse a day for a year with an explanatory paragraph and a little section to journal and pray. Start small. Milk, then meat. Eventually. Hopefully. Prayerfully.

I also gave them copies of my favorite Christian fiction book series. I fell in love with the Christy Miller books when I was in sixth grade, and re-read them every summer after that for ten years. The author, Robin Jones Gunn, specifically wrote them to combat the sludge her own youth group students were filling their minds with. These books, rich with golden nuggets of biblical truth, show faith in action in the life of a normal, teenage American girl. After all, 80% of the Bible was written in story format. God knows that we learn best through story – He created us that way!

Each week during small group, a different problem presents itself. Sometimes the girls are too talkative and disrespectful to get into good, deep discussion about the night’s message. Sometimes we’re pressed for time. Sometimes the soda machine kicks on and we can’t hear each other. The enemy uses anything he can to get in the way of those precious hearts hearing the Word of God.

But – I refuse to give up! I will keep trying any way I can think of to influence these girls for Christ, even if I have to suffer through a Bieber concert to earn the right to do it! God has placed this call on my heart and I will not abandon it, because abandoning “it” really means abandoning “them,” and “they” have hearts, minds, and souls just aching for God’s love.

What tools or methods are you using to reach people for Christ? Share in the comments below!

Jessie Chamberlain
Family Radio Staff

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